High risk of deer on roads

More deer on roads at this time of year
More deer on roads at this time of year

Motorists are being warned to watch for deer on the roads at this time of year.

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) say car accidents involving deer peak at this time of year, as clocks turn back and commuting time coinciding with deer coming out to feed on grass verges near roadsides.

The latest deer-vehicle collisions research shows there are more than 7000 deer-related motor vehicle accidents every year in Scotland, on average causing about 70 human injuries. The economic value of these accidents is £5 million. Across the UK, it’s estimated there could be up to 74,000 deer-related motor vehicle accidents a year, resulting in 400 to 700 human injuries and about 20 deaths, with a cost of over £17m.

Many people think most incidents with deer occur on more remote Highland roads, but in fact up to 70 percent occur on trunk roads or motorways. In addition, when traffic volume is taken into consideration, the risk of a collision with a deer is about twice as high per vehicle-mile driven in Scotland compared to England, according to the Deer Vehicle Collisions Project.

Sinclair Coghill, SNH Deer Management Officer, said: “We advise motorists to slow down and watch for deer crossing in front of traffic. Be particularly alert if you’re driving near woods where deer can suddenly appear before you have time to brake. If you do hit a deer, report it to the police, as the deer may be fatally injured and suffering.”

Other tips include:Try not to suddenly swerve to avoid hitting a deer. A collision into oncoming traffic could be even worse. Only break sharply and stop if there is no danger of being hit by following traffic. Try to come to a stop as far away from the animals as possible to allow them to leave the roadside without panic, and use your hazard warning lights.

After dark, use full-beams when there is no oncoming traffic, as this will illuminate the eyes of deer on or near a roadway and give you more time to react. But dim your headlights when you see a deer or other animal on the road so you don’t startle it.

Report any deer-vehicle collisions to the police, who will contact the local person who can best help with an injured deer at the roadside.

Do not approach an injured deer yourself – it may be dangerous.